Tuesday, 21 October 2014
As mentioned in a previous post, there was a group at Rev T's college for the spouses of Ministers in Training.
A friend who attended the group told me this. She is not a woman given to to exaggeration or making stuff up!
This piece of advice has never featured in any marriage prep sessions we've done. But it may work for someone.
The leaders discussed the various problems a vicar’s spouse faces™. One of the major problems was "Keeping The Magic of Your Marriage Alive".
As you're both busy, it's difficult to find time and energy for sex. As this is part of the glue that holds a marriage together, it needs to occur regularly. Valid point. When both of you are working, it can get: "Remind me ... who are you again ...?!"
A suggestion for solving the problem was to embroider a pair of pillowcases with a pretty design. When one of you wanted sex, the pillow would be turned over so the embroidery was face up.
If your other half saw this and turned the pillow over embroidery side up, you were on a promise. If the pillow remained plain side up, then you weren't. It was important to respect what the pillow said. If it said no, then it said no!
We have not tried this at home. Embroidery is not one of my skills. Carol, a friend who is an amazing needlewoman, offered to embroider me a set of pillow cases with the words, “Fancy A Shag”. This may not have been quite what the person making the suggestion had in mind!
Thursday, 16 October 2014
Birthdays (hopefully) mean Birthday
beats ... Er
no, time with your friends, family, Birthday presents and wishes. Thank
If you're really lucky, it means Birthday money. Extra spends!!! Having decided to use the extra spends for clothes; the first thing to do is make some space in the wardrobe. Time to give away (or, in some cases chuck far away) anything that:
- Hasn't been worn in a year. (Unless its occasion-wear or for anti-social weather. They may not be needed that often, but when you need them, you need them). I cheat on this one and try to wear something that I haven't worn for a bit before goes. Sometimes I remember why It's unworn and out it goes. Other times it's like rediscovering an old friend and it stays.
- You no longer like it or think that if you saw it in a shop now, you'd leave it there and keep walking.
- Is in a difficult colour or doesn't really go with anything else. Lots of advice on how to avoid this under the wear tag).
- Has gone wrong in the wash, is frayed, threadbare, discoloured, stained or knackered.
- Doesn't reflect the life you're living now. If you've gone back to college or given up work to look after children, you don't need a wardrobe of power suits etc.
- Anything that's too big or too tight. Someone else could make much better use of it.
Once the tidy is done, put everything back with the hangers the wrong way round. When you wear it, put it back on the hanger in the wardrobe the right way round. That helps you see what you've worn during the next clear out.
Hopefully after that, you won't end up putting everything back into the wardrobe so there is something to wear. No one wants to be naked and cold. Howling because the budget won't cover an entire new wardrobe!
- What you want to end up with is a wardrobe that reflects "your personal style". Whatever that means.
- That only contains items that go together. So you can just pull out items that can be worn together.
- Full of items you love, want to wear and make you want to sing and dance when you see what you're wearing in the mirror.
So, having done the tidy, how to avoid the first world problem of stuffocation?
Stuffocation is wardrobe so crammed with clothes; you can't find or remember most of them. And none of them go with anything else. So you only end up wearing a few things over and over. As those are the only ones you can prise out. For that, I have a plan!
Friday, 13 June 2014
Having explained the whole Calling process, it's worth thinking about the theory behind it. Basically, the vicar you get is the perfect one for your church at the time.
A discussion about the vicar's role on Ship of Fools and remembering the whole Settlement process made me think about the shopping list churches have when looking for a Minister.
- Challenges the congregation so they grow spiritually. Doesn't offend them or change anything.
- Holds services that are not too long or too short. Contain the right mix of hymns and choruses. Sermons are the correct length. Not too high or low brow.
- Works from 7am to midnight on all aspects of church life. Is always available if needed. But has a good family life.
- Invests 25 hours a week in sermon preparation; 20 hours in pastoral ministry; 10 hours in meetings; 5 hours in unexpected emergencies; 20 hours in visiting and evangelism; 6 hours in funerals and weddings; 30 hours in Bible reading, prayer and their own spiritual development; 12 hours in administration and correspondence; 10 hours in creative thinking and 15 hours organising the building project. Still has time for family.
- Has a burning desire to work with young people. Spends all their time with old ones.
- Always has time for all committees and activities of the church. Never misses a meeting of any church organisation. Is always busy building relationships with people outside the church. Still has time for family.
- 30-something years old. With over 40 years of experience.
- Is good looking. But not too good looking. Not too tall or short. Not too fat or thin. Not too funny or serious.
- Talented, gifted, scholarly, musical, practical, popular, compassionate, understanding, patient, level-headed, dependable, loving, caring, neat, organised, cheerful, and above all, humble. Can leap tall buildings in a single bound.
- Has perfect, well behaved children of all ages.
- Has Spouse with all the spiritual gifts listed by St Paul. The qualities of the perfect woman listed in Provers. The judgement of Deborah and the wisdom of Solomon. Plus any practical gifts that fill all the skill gaps in the church's ministries. Plus (!) psychic powers so s/he always knows where the Minster is and what's happening. I apologise in advance to any church that calls Rev T in the future. Falling over your feet and saying ar*e a lot may not be considered good qualities, but they're what I bring to the table.
- Is at someone else's church.
If your vicar does not measure up, send this to six other churches that are tired of their vicar as well. Bundle up your vicar and forward to the church at the top of the list. If everyone cooperates, in one week you will receive 1,643 vicars. One of them should be perfect. Have faith in this letter. One church broke the chain and got their old vicar back in less than three months.
Monday, 9 June 2014
Going back to this post, where I talked about being £6,000 in debt, I thought some people might be interested in the detail of how I paid it off. "Rev T and some good friends helped me set a repayment plan and stick to it"
This was before the Internet. It was an article in a paper or magazine about a book. How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt and Live Prosperously by Jerrod Mundis. The book is based on the principles of Debtors Anonymous (DA).
The main difference between DA and some other good sources of advice, is DA acknowledges for some people, debt is an addiction. It's going to take more than a good budget to get them back to black. Mundis has been there and bought that. He works through every excuse and demolishes them all. It's not an easy read, but it's a worthwhile one.
The first thing is to acknowledge that debt is you have a problem with debt. My name is Mrs Tubbs and I am a compulsive debtor.
Once the problem is acknowledged and owned, it's time for the next step.
Commit to not incurring any new debt today. Just today. Yesterday has gone and life doesn't come with an undo button. Tomorrow isn't here yet so you don't need to worry about it.
The book sets out a re-education process. A spending detox, debt repayment plan and a refocusing of priorities from shopping / debt to family, friends, career etc.
A new person that's more than just the balance on a card. As no one talks about money ever, let alone debt, it's easy to assume that you are the only person in the world with this problem. You’re not.
There reason about why some people have this issue and others don't btw. Rev T was born with the ability to track his money to the penny. He can rattle off his bank balances and if he doesn't have the money, he stops spending until he has.
Here’s a brief outline of DA's process:
- Work out the cost of monthly essential out-goings. Housing, utilities, food, transport to work. What’s left is for debt repayments, savings and non-essential spending.
- Create a monthly spending plan that reflects outgoings. £x for housing, £y for food, £x for clothes etc. Unlike some regimes, the book allows for small items of non-essential spending and saving. Only within the confines of the monthly spending plan. Identify ways to reduce outgoings and increase income.
- Go through the bills and work out how much is owned. And who too. Try not to freak out!
- Work out a repayment plan based on priority. Size, interest rate or the lender. Pay any mortgage / rental debts first. Then the ones with the highest interest rate or the biggest.
- Contact the people you owe money to ask them to accept your payment plan. Many will accept as some money is better than none. As each debt is paid, money is freed up to go towards other debts, outgoings and savings.
- Track all spending. However small. Group spending into categories so you can see how the spending compares to the plan. This helps you keep on track and adjust if needed. Each night, add the daily totals to the weekly totals so you know what money is left for the rest of the month. The commitment to not incurring new debt means this is the only money you have. This keeps you on track with the spending plan.
- Keep a monthly running total of how much you owe and how much you’re repaid. Watching the balance decrease motivates you to keep going. You can see it working!
- Cut up any credit or store cards so there won't be any new debt. If they’re still there, they’re a temptation. If they’re used, then the balance won’t decrease. This was the hardest part of the process for me. I hid my credit card in the underwear drawer. It moved to a plastic bag of water in the freezer. By the time I’d defrosted it, I’d lost interest in whatever it was. Rev T had it for a while. Eventually it got shredded. I cried.
Once all the debt is repaid, continue taking it one day at a time. Keep to the spending plan and tracking. The book assumes this is done in conjunction with regular DA meetings, a sponsor etc. There weren't any groups near me. I did it with the aid of some great friends. Lisa, Laura and Karen and Rev T. One day at a time.
Years later, I'm still doing it, one day at a time. Some days are better than others, but if one day goes badly, I know I did it yesterday. That helps me feel able to give it another try tomorrow.
If you think that your issues with your finances are more than just being crap at budgeting, then DA may help you. If you think you just need a better budget, then DA may help you create a realistic one and stick to it.
The five things about church that I’d like to see live. A companion post to this one about 5 things in church that I'd like to see die. There should be praise as well as blame.
Dirty Sexy Ministry concludes:
- Best message.Ever. God loved people so much he gave his only Son, so everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die. (John 3:16)
- Community. There are millions of church communities of different sizes and shapes throughout the world. All trying to be welcoming, caring and relevant, Jesus focused communities. It's one of the few places where you can interact people from outside your circle or peer group.
- Diversity. Each of those church groups worships the same God completely differently. That’s okay. It’s the heart not the appearance that’s important. From the Highest Anglicans, via the Baptists, the Catholics to the Snake Handlers. Something for everyone.
- Practicality. Many of the things the UK takes for granted - welfare state, employment laws, charities, schools, NHS - exist because Christians campaigned for them and made them happen. Many churches run toddler groups, lunch clubs for retired people, food banks etc. Christians are still at the forefront of campaigns against trafficking, slavery etc. Be great if these things died because we didn't need them.
- It's never dull. Trying to be community with people of different ages and cultures with one thing in common - you all believe in God- is never dull. Joyful, challenging, fun and frustrating but never dull. It teaches you about yourself. It teaches you even more about God. We don't journey through things on either list alone. God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - is beside us. Hopefully at the centre of things. But sometimes on the side-lines shouting, "Oi! I'm over here!" That's the thing about God, he turns up everywhere.
Dirty Sexy Ministry concludes:
"The Church has been dying since its birth on Pentecost. And it has been living since Pentecost. The Church is a living spirit. Like all living spirits of God, we wax and wane. We have times of feast and famine. We are the embodiment of death and life. Perhaps instead of bewailing the death of the church, we can be the people of faith called into being on Pentecost and trust that death is part of our life together. Things will change. Beloved traditions may have lived their full life; new experiences are birthed. Change happens. Life goes on. Amen. Alleluia!"
Wednesday, 4 June 2014
Thank you Amanda for the comment, the same thing happens to me. My image of my 18 year old self is ruined by unexpected mirror glancing or photos. Then it gets, "Who's the old bint?".
Another post of limited husbandy interest. London Beauty Queen posted two entries talking about things about make up and skincare she'd wished she'd known when she was 20.
Excellent idea, here are the things that I wish my 18 year old aubergine eye shadow buying self-had known:
- Always wear sunblock. Helps protect against cancer and sun damage.
- Look after your skin. Cleanse, tone, moisturise, maybe use a serum and an eye cream morning and night. Don't go to sleep with your make-up on. Maybe bung on a primer before putting on make-up as well. It’s unlikely any of us will be the youthful looking eighty year old who only used soap and water. Get lots of sleep and eat well.
- Don't believe the hype. There will always be must have beauty products. Some will work for you and others won't. If you think they'll work for you, you can afford them and they don't duplicate what you've already got, then go for it. If not, then don't worry, there will be another must have product along in a minute.
- Expensive isn't always best. Whilst the Kevyn Aucoin Candlelight & Sculpting Powder Duo is finely milled, blends nicely, stays all day and comes in a beautiful case, it's £19. The Sleek Makeup Contour Kit costs £6.49, lasts forever and does the same thing. Not quite as foxy looking, but does the same job with money left.
- You've only got one face and only two of your four cheeks need blusher. There's only so much stuff you need and can use up before it goes off.
- Make up is meant to enhance your features, it's not a mask. Go easy!
- Brushes. The right brushes make application easier and the finished look better. Clean them regularly.
Have fun! You're only be 20 something once and you can only get way with wearing that for so long. Don't wish it away, just go for it!
Sunday, 1 June 2014
But the face that looks back at me in the mirror tells a different story. We all age, get wrinkles etc. It's not the end of the world, just part of life. You're not any less talented, gifted or compassionate etc now. Just older.
This tutorial by Lisa Eldridge is aimed at women my age. Brilliant as many makeup tutorials are by twenty-somethings. Nothing wrong with that, but what works for them may not always always work for me as we're in a different place.
Eldridge's video is great as it discusses things about beauty at this age you'd really rather not - wrinkles, facial hair, sweatiness, not being able to see well enough to do a cats eye flick - and gives some work arounds. The right makeup can take years off. Me, only better. Perfect for everyday.
But ... but ... It's so minimalist and tasteful! Sometimes that's not what's wanted. The girl who ran to Miss Selfridge to buy aubergine eyeshadow is in there. And she complained when the eyeshadow wasn't aubergine enough. For those times, there's this from Illamasqua.
In the words of Jenny Joseph's poem, Warning:
"When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple, with a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit me, and I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves and satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter"
If you're wearing purple and a red hat, you may as well combine it with some spangly eyeshadow and a red lip.
Thank you to Rev T for sharing my blog on Facebook and to Neil and Ros for the likes.
Saturday, 31 May 2014
Dirty Sexy Ministry, probably the best title for a blog about ministry unless you know different, posted a list of things that need to die in church. Some of these are also on my list, others not so much.
As an opener, this is fantastic:
"Jesus does love us, and the church, this oddball, quirky, community of faithful and not so faithful exists because of that very love and the Holy Spirit. And yes, the church is living and dying - at the same time. We preach it. We ought to do a better job of living it".
- The obsession with size and numbers. Bigger and richer isn't necessarily better, a reflection of spiritual maturity or strength of community. Give the small to medium church locally before trying the mega church 20 minutes drive away. The local church may not have five worship bands, a coffee shop or loads of children's groups, but it may be spirit-filled, lively and give you more opportunities to serve and grow. (One of the catch 22's of a small church is that you don't have loads of resources so people don't come as they want a church with blah ... But if some of those people came, you would have them!) If it doesn't work out, then try the mega church!
- Unrealistic expectations. Nothing is going to meet every need, be available 24-7 or behave perfectly all the time. Physic powers are not a gift of the spirit and people won't know things are wrong unless you tell them. Churches are made up of fallen human beings. Ministers are fallen human beings with theology degrees. Minster's families are just people related to the Minister by blood or marriage. And are fallen human beings. It'll be messy, dysfunctional and people may behave badly. Just try not to be one of them. God can help with that if asked.
- The curse of nice. Jesus asks us to love, be kind and honest. Jesus accepted and loved people, but challenged behaviours. Dirty Sexy Ministry: "Nice will not tell you your drinking has become problematic, your anger is an issue, your bounaries are invasive and your pants are indeed too tight. Love tries to find a way to do all these things with dignity". Love tries the best it can. (See point 2). Jesus never promised there wouldn't be conflicts or disagreements either.
- Closed minds and hearts. Alan Cresswell on Ship of Fools invented two rules for discussion of Christian things: "A discussion in which only one answer is possible is tedious, not to mention pointless". And, "A Bible verse isn't the end of a discussion. It's the start of one". Add in Jesus' teaching about loving each other; everyone being created in the image of God and it all gets a bit awkward. Christians aren't people who all think the same things about God. The only thing they have in common is that they all accept Jesus as their Saviour and Lord. How they work that out in their lives is between them and God. Giving people the freedom to ask questions, discuss issues and disagree is important. If someone isn't prepared to fellowship with someone else because of what they think about blah ... That's pretty terminal.
- Misuse of the word "persecution". Being disagreed with about Christian stuff or having the piss taken out of you isn't persecution. That's just life! This is persecution. Living in fear, not being free to worship openly - that's persecution.
Wednesday, 28 May 2014
Thank you comet, for the comment about getting books from public libraries rather than buying them in response to this post about ways to save money. Shamefully I didn't think of that considering I used to work in one!
Thank you to all my Twitter / FB friends and family for reading and commenting there. It's good to know that I'm not responseible for the page views.
One of the slogans used by the Access credit card was, "Take the waiting out of wanting". Creating the "gotta have it now, I deserve it" generation. I'm one. I racked up a credit card debt of £6,000 and paid it off a bit at a time. It may not sound like a lot, but it was a lot to me. I still have the final bill showing the zero balance.
Wish lists put the waiting back into wanting.
Money is for wants and needs. Needs are things necessary to live - housing costs; food; utility bills etc. Where that line is drawn is up to you, but I try to draw it fairly tight. Any money left after needs goes towards savings and wants.
Wants is everything else. Clothes, coffee whilst out, new things etc. There is so much money for wants each month, but usually more wants than money. Wish lists are a great way to keep wants in check. Mine is on my phone, It's a list of all the lovely things I'd like to buy for me, Rev T or the Tubblet.
Wish lists help keep things in perspective. One new item may not look quite so fabulous compared to something else. Or it'll help confirm it's this rather than that. Or neither. That money is better saved for later rather than spent.
As well as helping the books balance, it also prevents over consumption. "Do I really need another ..." Living gently. The end game is that each and every purchase is something that's really wanted and will be used.
Being honest, once an impulse shopper, always an impulse shopper. Wish lists help keep spending in check. Only iron self control prevents an outbreak of Viv Nicholson style, Spend, Spend, Spend in Westfield. But, when you have a wobble, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, remind yourself why you're doing this and start all over again.
Monday, 26 May 2014
On Facebook, a picture of a US Fifth Grade teacher is circulating. She's trying to show her students how quickly a picture or comment on the Internet can go viral and travel all over the world. Even after you've thought better of it and deleted it. There were replies from most US States, Canada, Australia and Europe. As the image is still circulating, I wonder where it is now?
We're trying to teach the Tubblet, who is 10, about keeping safe online; how to deal with cyber bullies etc. (Lots of good stuff on Think U Know).
My rule of thumb is not to post anything on the Internet that I wouldn't say to someone's face. Or want to see posted on a billboard outside my house with my picture, real name and address next to it. And to never post angry or drunk. I haven't always succeeded, but that rule has saved me from myself a few times.
I do worry about how the Internet generation will deal with their online footprint and avoid it biting them on the ar*e later.
What do you think is the best way to keep yourself and your family safe online?
Sunday, 25 May 2014
Tim Jupp read this out on the radio ages ago. The author is unknown. I thought I'd share it as I'm finding it quite helpful:
I Am Thankful
For the wife
Who says it's hot dogs tonight,
Because she is at home with me,
And not out with someone else.
For the husband
Who is on the sofa
Being a couch potato,
Because he is at home with me
And not out at the bars.
For the teenager
Who is complaining about doing dishes
Because it means she is at home,
Not on the streets.
For the taxes I pay
Because it means
I am employed.
For the mess to clean up after a party
Because it means I have
Been surrounded by friends.
For the clothes that fit a little too snug
Because it means
I have enough to eat.
For my shadow that watches me work
Because it means that I am out in the sunshine.
For a lawn that needs mowing,
Windows that need cleaning,
And gutters that need fixing
Because it means I have a home.
For all the complaining
I hear about the government
Because it means
We have freedom of speech.
For the parking spot
I find at the far end of the parking lot
Because it means I am capable of walking
And I have been blessed with transportation.
For my huge heating bill,
Because it means
I am warm.
For the lady behind me at church
Who sings off key because it means
I can hear.
For the pile of laundry and ironing
Because it means
I have clothes to wear.
For the weariness and aching muscles
At the end of the day
Because it means I have been
Capable of working hard.
For the alarm that goes off
In the early morning hours
Because it means that I am alive.
And finally, for too much email
Because it means I have
Friends who are thinking of me.
Live well, laugh often and love with all of your heart!